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Book Review ~ Olivia Holmes Inherited a Vineyard

 4 out of 5 stars ~~ Book Review

In one of my recent searches for new authors to read (and maybe review) I bought this one by Mark Daydy. I wasn’t

 enamored of the title…too long, not very creative and certainly a spoiler alert. Why did the writer give away the plot of the whole story? I thought, ‘a much better title would been  Vineyard in the Moonlight or Grapes to Glass or The Vines. I could go on and on about the wrongness of the title but instead of giving it a pass, I bought the book. 

Next I’m not a fan of a man writing chick lit (fiction for women). They simply don’t have the empathy to write about women for women. I scoffed but ran my credit card anyway. 

I’ve been eating crow with each page that I turned.  This was an excellent story, with well drawn characters.  There was a certain crispness that I don’t find with female authors, much as I luv ’em.  My only critique was that Olivia was a bit ‘wishy-washy’ at times. It would have been a stronger story if she had been more decisive about (for example) leaving her job. She could have done it sooner in my opinion.  But what PANACHE! when she finally did it!  

I’m looking forward to reading the sequel very soon.  

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Review ~~ Sunday at the Sunflower Inn

5 out of 5 stars   ~~   Book Review

First page, first sentence, the reader meets McCoy and is hooked.  A broke-down, wounded, homeless handsome cowboy. Who can resist?  This new book is part of the “Honey Creek” series. 
   
The other characters in this story are equally empathetic and interesting. Jam, Tucson, Pecos, Pop Sadler, to name just a few. My only criticism (if you can call it that) is I would have liked more paper and ink dedicated to McCoy’s story. 

This is a story of small town, USA; Honey Creek.  Infused with colorful and interesting characters that only Jodi Thomas can serve up. 
The writing is supurb…it is Jodi Thomas after all. 

On Sale: April 26, 2022
Did you miss my Interview with Jodi? 

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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan, November: Susanne O’Leary, December: Mimi Mathews, February: Jennie Goutet
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How Protagonists Engage Readers….or Not

What’s the secret?  Why does one protagonist immediately engage the reader when another is slow to achieve this or never does?  I recently read two novels, back to back, (it sounds like I read sporadically; not true, I have a book in my hand 24/7). 

Anyway, back to my point…..one book (Growing Season by  Melinda Foster) had a single woman, late 30’s, who’s life falls apart.  Long time relationship ends suddenly, and she is found to be redundant at her job of 14 years with the same company. (Most of us can relate to some or all of this.) She is called away to her home town to help family with the business and a small farm.  She was immediately empathetic due to the excellent writing and character development. 

The other book, House on the Harbor by Elizabeth Bromke was not engaging. The four sisters, Kate, Amelia, Megan, and Clara came across as mealy-mouthed and victims. Yep, all four of them. Maybe if the development of the characters had been stronger. Maybe if the author had the reader spend more time with each sister. And the house on the harbor was a non-entity. The house should have been the fifth character.   At first glance, they have  each inherited 1/4 of the house. At first glance….

But this reader didn’t care about any of these women.  I kept speaking to them: “put your big girl panties on and move forward!”  I did finish the book but felt relieved when I had, not satisfied. 

What’s the secret?  Good writing, finely drawn characters, people the reader can relate to.  
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Book 1 in series

 

 

 

 

Conclusion: Interview with Regency Author, Jennie Goutet

Author, Jennie Goutet

Q. What makes a writer great?

JG. There is natural talent, of course. But I think what makes a writer great is being able to handle critique and to incorporate the good critiques into future works – to constantly learn and grow in the craft.

Q. and the all-important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?

JG. I get a rough idea and write a few chapters that I love. Then I crash and don’t know what to do next so I call my development editor and we talk through the ideas. I write a really skeletal first draft and hate it. Then read through and think it’s not quite so bad. I get my critique partners to have a look and take their advice. I edit again then send it to the developmental editor in completed form (or at least at 80%). I edit again on the computer then on paper and send it to the line editor. I edit again with her changes and do text to voice to catch repeats or strange wording. Then I read it on my kindle to see it as a reader would before sending it to the proof editor. In the final stages, I send it to early readers who catch all the typos and other mistakes no one else caught. Then it’s ready to go out.

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

JG. I’ve lived in a lot of places. I’m curious about human nature. I observe. I’ve suffered from the darker things like grief and depression. I’ve known wild joy and adventure. I think my characters come to life from what I’ve experienced.

Q. What’s your down time look like?

JG. This is a weakness of mine. I do not have down time. I work all day on writing or the other aspects of the business (marketing, social media, production, translation, audio), then make dinner and listen to my teens talk about their day. On the weekend I’m doing ministry stuff. (We serve the teen ministry). I know this is just a phase, though – these teen years – so I’m okay with it. I really enjoy reading in bed at night. And we go away a few times a year, which is great. Sometimes I take a walk by the Seine river, or visit a friend, or go into Paris, but there is no regular downtime.

Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre`?

JG. I’ve written contemporary romance. A Noble Affair was my first novel and it’s not the finest in terms of literature but it was good practice for a full-length fiction work. And A Sweetheart in Paris is a decent book, I think, but it hasn’t attracted much attention. I’ve written a memoir as well, Stars Upside Down. I think if I were to switch genres I wouldn’t stray far. Georgian or Victorian as opposed to Regency. But I really love what I write.

Q. Note to Self: (a life lesson you’ve learned.)

A. Well, this won’t be relatable to everyone, but my main life’s lesson is that when I draw my last breath my books won’t matter. Only my relationship to God will. So I need to make sure that success doesn’t go to my head and that failure doesn’t destroy me. I am just God’s kid, and He’ll make sure I have all I need.

Did you miss Part 1 or Part 2?
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan, November: Susanne O’Leary, December: Mimi Mathews, February: Jennie Goutet
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Interview with France based author, Jennie Goutet (part 2)

The summer Alps

Q. What does it feel like to be an American writer, living in France, writing in an English, historic romance genre. (Special challenges? Funny stories?)

JG. I can usually forget about where I live when writing my Regency England books. But it can be tricky when translating the books, especially when the Napoleonic wars are portrayed. My latest book was set in Waterloo and we all know how that turned out for the French. I’ll be putting a disclaimer in the front and the back of the book for that one. (Oui, oui, I love my adopted country). Otherwise, I think it helps for the historical details. I have a much easier time getting to the French chateaux, but they can easily inspire me much in the same way the English ones would were I able to visit them.

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

JG. Sometimes I start out with a good idea of the character and who he or she is. At other times, I discover my character as I go. He or she takes control of the story and runs off with it in an unexpected direction.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

This blogger is a big fan!

JG. I had tried writing when I was younger. A handwritten book in the 8th grade, 10 chapters of a book that went nowhere when we were living in Africa, a fantasy book that I mapped out and abandoned. It was finally the freedom of writing for the sake of writing on my blog that allowed me to see how much I enjoyed written expression, and it was my memoir that allowed me to see that I could finish a book. From there I wanted to keep writing books but I had already told my own story. It was time to tell someone else’s.

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

JG. It truly depends on the book. I might start with Character: ‘I want to tell the story of a woman who keeps her poise when faced with a series of difficult situations’ (A Fall from Grace); or Situation: ‘I want to tell the story of an arranged marriage where the bride is furious to be sold off and the husband is feeling sheepish about having arranged it’ (His Disinclined Bride); or it could be that I know the character from previous books and tackle Both: ‘I want to put shy, retiring Phoebe with her unrequited love through the fires of Brussels in 1815, which will show her just how strong she is.’ (A Daring Proposal). It just depends.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

JG. I should say yes. That is what a proper writer is supposed to say. But no, not always. Sometimes it’s just a job and I have to get the word count in. Fortunately (for the reader, I suppose) there will always come a point when I am fully invested. But in terms of proportion of time spent getting lost, it’s a little less like first dates / falling in love and more like married for 25 years and still grateful – if that makes sense. Even if a lot of the writing feels like work, I do love it.

Q. Are you working on something now or have a new release coming up? If so tell us about it.

a trip to Rouen

JG. Right now I’m in the process of launching two season finales. A Daring Proposal is just released in the Memorable Proposals series. This is the one about Waterloo. And The Sport of Matchmaking is set to come out in May. This one is the last of the Clavering Chronicles series, and it’s fun and light in tone. There is a pretty strong contrast to A Daring Proposal, which is more about the deeper emotions. So now it’s time to start something new. I am in the process of thinking about a series. I’m working out the setting, the characters, the covers and the names, but it’s too early in the process to say anything because it might yet change.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

JG. I was a regular and invested blogger for years, but those were always short posts rather than the longer works. I published my memoir at the end of 1813 (Oh my gosh. That is how much of a Regency writer I am – I literally wrote that date instead of the 21st century) in 2013 and I have not looked back since.

Q. Do you think we will see, in our lifetime, the total demise of paper books?

JG. I’m not sure. If we increase bamboo production and start to use that instead, and start to reduce battery-operated small appliances … maybe we’ll keep paper? Unless the e-readers all become solar charged? I do think that the trend will be based more on the needs of the environment rather than readers’ preferences.

Did you miss Part 1 of our interview?
Join us for the conclusion next week. 

Did you miss my REVIEW of this author’s book?
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan, November: Susanne O’Leary, December: Mimi Mathews, February: Jennie Goutet
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I Guess It’s All In the Writing…

What makes us, as readers, care about the characters in a book?  What is it about one book over another? I recently took a chance on a couple of new authors (to me) and was pretty disappointed. The books were like eating a slice of Wonder White Bread, with nothing on it; not even butter. Bland, tasteless and of little interest. 

Sophie was listless, I’m sorry to say with long run-on sentences. Beachcomber Motel was not interesting for a different and ‘deadly’ reason; the characters were not well drawn. They could have been more interesting; instead all three had been ‘done wrong’ by life. And quite frankly, I didn’t care about them. The love story of Jules didn’t develop until the last few pages and was more like: ‘Oh! I forgot to finish up Jules and Nick’s story.’  But, I misspoke, it wasn’t finished up but left the reader dangling mid-relationship with those two. Probably in the author’s hope that readers would be enticed to read a sequel.  Both of these are going to be a series, which I cannot recommend.  
  1 out of 5 stars 

This is beginning to sound more like a book review but hang in there….I will get to my point about writing. 

4 out of 5 stars

So I gave up on those two and cracked another new one; The Stationmaster’s Daughter.  I was instantly engaged and worried about Tilly and her dad, Ken, Ted and Annie. Of course, the setting didn’t hurt; a discarded railway station out in the wilds of Dorset. (UK)  Through no fault of her own, Tilly’s been kicked pretty hard by life. We find that out (artfully written) pretty soon after page one but with no feeling of being rushed.  Then there are flashbacks to 1935 when the trains were running in rural counties.

So no surprise, the difference is simple. It’s all about the writing. That something that a writer has in their storytelling that weaves a charming, enticing, well-drawn and interesting tale. This one’s about trains; I don’t care about trains except if they are on time and relatively clean. But the writer based the back story on trains in their heyday; the steam locomotion. And it was just enough that a reader like me didn’t grow weary with the history of trains.  It was well balanced with beautifully drawn characters. And the dialogue was excellent; I could hear their voices.             
It’s all in the writing. Full stop!
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, August: Veronica Henry, October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan, November: Susanne O’Leary, December: Mimi Matthews 
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Author Interview with Susanne O’Leary

Swedish by birth and Irish by marriage, Susanne O’Leary is the author of 35 novels, mainly in the romantic fiction genre. She has also written four crime novels and two in the historical fiction genre. She’s been the wife of a diplomat (still married to the same man, now retired), a fitness teacher and a translator. Susanne now writes full-time from either of two locations, a big old house in County Tipperary, Ireland or a little cottage overlooking the Atlantic in Dingle, County Kerry. When she is not scaling the mountains of said counties (including MacGillycuddy’s Reeks), or keeping fit in the local gym, she keeps writing, producing a book every six months or so.

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, special space for your writing? (please provide a photo of you at work in your shed, room, closet, barn, houseboat….) Or tell us about your ‘dream’ work space.

SO. I usually write in my little office in our house in County Tipperary, with views of the green hills and mountains. When I’m in Kerry, I write sitting in an IKEA chair by the fire, looking at the ocean when I take a break.

Q. Do you have any special rituals  or quirks when you sit down to write? A neat work space, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.?

Work space in Tipperary

SO. I always write in my pajamas and sheepskin slippers, tea in my favourite blue mug with a slice of toast with marmalade that I

nibble on while I read through what I wrote yesterday. Then I write new material for an hour or two, and then I do some yoga (still in my pyjamas) before I get dressed.

Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?

SO. My real first name is Karin. Susanne is my middle name.

Q. What tools do you begin with? Legal pad, spiral notebook, pencils, fountain pen, or do you go right to your keyboard?

SO. Always on the keyboard on my good old Lenovo laptop.

Q. Do you have a set time each day (or night) to write?

SO. Early in the morning is my best and brightest time to write!

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

SO. Make a particular time each day your writing hour. If you stick to that, it’ll be easier to get going.

One of the Interviewer’s favs

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

SO. That’s an interesting question. My books always start with a

situation, then I put the characters into that, and then they become stronger and stronger right through the first draft. Then I go back to the beginning and flesh them out, because now I really know them.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

Starting the day with an ocean swim

SO. I started my writing career by writing non-fiction and wrote two books about health and fitness (I am a trained fitness teacher). While writing these books, I discovered how much I loved the actual writing process. My then editor gave me the idea to write a fun novel based on my experiences as a diplomat’s wife. This became my debut novel, ‘Diplomatic Incidents’ (now also an e-book with the title Duty Free‘).

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

SO. Usually the situation.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

 

Part two of this wonderful Interview will be posted Nov. 6th
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, August: Veronica Henry, October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan, November: Susanne O’Leary.
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Interview with writer, Veronica Henry (conclusion)

Q. Do you think we will see, in our lifetime, the total demise of paper books?

VH. I sure hope not! I think books make a home, and are a big part of us. You can tell a person by the books they have on their shelves. They make wonderful gifts too. My books are my most treasured possessions. I don’t feel so emotional about my Kindle!

Q. What makes a writer great?

VH. If they can make you laugh and cry. And if you recognize the characters in the book, even if they are from two hundred years ago.

Q. and the all-important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?

VH. I write a book a year, so ideally it would be two months brainstorming and researching, six months for a first draft, two months for a second draft and then the rest of the time finessing. But it’s quite a fluid process. The most intense period is the second draft -that’s when the book really falls into place but it’s emotionally draining and you need to really concentrate to get the most out of your material.

Q. What’s your down time look like?

Dinner party at sunset

VH. I live by the sea, so I spend a lot of time at the beach. Either walking the dog, or swimming (I swam all the way through winter without a wetsuit!) or hanging out with my friends with a picnic and a bottle of wine as the sun goes down. I love to cook, so I love to have the time to make a really special dinner. We have a great fishmonger near us, so right now it’s all about the crab and the lobster. I’ve just made a white chocolate and raspberry cake – it’s in the oven!

Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre`?

VH. I’ve spent a long time building up a career in my genre so it would be crazy to just switch – although I know a lot of authors who have gone over to crime or thrillers recently. I like people to feel good when they finish reading my books, so I’m going to stick with it!!

Veronica cooks to relax

Q. Note to Self: (a life lesson you’ve learned.)

VH. Everything comes back into fashion eventually!

Did you miss Part 1?
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, August: Veronica Henry and October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monohan.
To receive my weekly posts sign up for my 

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

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Interview with Author, Veronica Henry (part 2)

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

VH. It’s a bit like going to a party. You meet the host, and then they introduce you to all their friends. You see someone on the sidelines and think ‘Oooh they look interesting’, and then go over and have a chat. Quite often the people who seem interesting to start with turn out to be rather dull, and the quiet ones are the ones with hidden depths.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

VH. I was a total bookworm, as my father was in the army so we moved every two years, and books were my constant. And my favourite character was Jo March from Little Women. So I always loved creative writing at school. But working on the Archers was the first time I realized that everyone needs an escape in their life, to get away from reality, and that made me fall in love with storytelling and view it as a career.

One of this Interviewer’s favorites

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

VH. Usually the characters in a particular setting – I love to set my books somewhere my reader would like to be – and then I start asking myself where they are in their life. What dilemmas do they have? What would they like to change about their lives? What has just happened to them that has upset the apple cart and what are the consequences? And I ask myself where I’d like them to be – metaphorically – by the end of the book.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

VH. It goes in phases, but quite often I act out what I am imagining to myself, much to my children’s amusement. Or walking along the beach muttering away to myself, like The French Lieutenant’s Woman. I just need a black cape with a hood!

Q. Are you working on something now or have a new release coming up? If so tell us about it.

Henry’s view from her window

VH. My next book is called The Impulse Purchase about a 70 year old woman who buys the pub in the village she grew up in, on impulse. Her daughter and granddaughter join her to run it, and they turn it around – and change their lives in the process. It was such fun to write, especially the family dynamics. And the food!

Wonderful series

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

VH. When I became a TV script editor. I often had to rewrite parts of the scripts – often for logistical reasons – and wrote the storylines too. TV is a very hungry beast and uses up a lot of material so you have to be prolific.
                                                           *********

The conclusion August 27th
Did you miss the beginning segments of this wonderful Interview?
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Interview with British Author, Veronica Henry

As an army child, Veronica went to eight different schools, including the Royal School Bath, where she learnt Latin, how to make rock buns and how to take her bra off without getting undressed. She went on to study Classics at Bristol University, followed by a bi-lingual secretarial course – a surprisingly useful combination. Veronica started her career as a secretary on The Archers, a long running radio drama, typing scripts, then moved on to television and became a script writer. When she had her first child she jumped over the fence and became a script writer, then turned to writing novels in 2002, “as books were always my first love.”

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, special space for your writing?  Or tell us about your ‘dream’ work space.

VH. Now two of my children have left home I’m lucky enough to have a dedicated office space. I have a huge desk to spread out all my papers and research and the books I’m reading. There are inevitably piles of paperwork and proofs to read and one day I will sort it all out so it is calm and organized! It has a sea view, which is great, and is very light and airy. I have to work in silence – no music, even though music is a big part of my life.

Q. Do you have any special rituals or quirks when you sit down to write? (a neat work space, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

VH. The most important thing is to make sure my hair is tied up – with anything!! I can’t stand it falling into my face while I work. I have my

dog, Zelda, named after Zelda Fitzgerald, on a sheepskin rug under the desk.

Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?

VH. I went to school in the States for three years and had the accent to prove it! It’s faded now but I still say ‘gas’ and ‘trash’ instead of ‘petrol’ and ‘rubbish’

Q. What tools do you begin with? Legal pad, spiral notebook, pencils, fountain pen, or do you go right to your keyboard?

New Release

VH. I  love making notes with a black pen and a narrow feint notebook at the beginning of the process – somehow it makes me think more creatively. But then I work straight into the computer. I don’t use a special app but have recently discovered the navigation pane which really helps knowing where I am in the document.

Q. Do you have a set time each day (or night) to write?

VH. I’m a lark and prefer to get straight on with writing first thing, after I’ve walked the dog. My energy dips after lunch, so that’s when I go over what I’ve already written or do some light reading! I cannot work in the evening to save my life.

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

VH. Just grasp the nettle, I’m afraid. The fear is worse than the reality. We all do it, but I can’t afford to procrastinate too much. I view writing as a business. Most other professions don’t have the luxury of procrastination. Imagine your dentist faffing about before getting on with your check up!

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

Join Us For Part 2 of this Wonderful Interview
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, August: Veronica Henry.
To receive my weekly posts sign up for my 

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK